08 Jul What to Know About Beryllium Copper and EMI RFI Shielding
Today, most electronic devices are equipped with some form of EMI RFI shielding. Because of its exceptional properties, Beryllium Copper has become the material of choice when it comes to protecting electronic devices and parts against internal and external electromagnetic and radio frequency interference.
You can learn more about EMI RFI shielding by reading our previous article What is EMI RFI Shielding? In this article, we will, however, focus on Beryllium Copper and its important role in EMI RFI shielding.
What is Beryllium Copper and What is it Used For?
Beryllium copper, also called BeCu, is a high-performance metal that can be transformed into a wide variety of components. It has been the industry-standard material for EMI RFI shielding since the first instances of interference were found in military electronics. An alloy of copper with 0.5 to 3% beryllium, this substance is prized for its extremely high strength and non-magnetic properties, which make it suited to a wide range of applications.
Beryllium copper is used for everything from parts in hazardous environment tools to bullets, aircrafts, and even some musical instruments. In EMI RFI shielding, it is often combined with pure metals such as nickel, acting as a plating on protective components. These components are commonly used in the telecom, medical and transportation industries to protect vital equipment from error or failure.
Properties of BeCu
As an EMI RFI shield, beryllium copper is the industry standard, with a wide range of features that make it ideal for various protective applications. Here are some of the unique properties of beryllium copper:
- Electrical and thermal conductivity: In order for EMI RFI shielding to work, it needs to be conductive. This conductivity absorbs interference either coming from within a piece of electronics or outside of it. Then, the interference is converted into an electric current which is distributed through the shielding. Beryllium copper is particularly effective at this and is able to distribute a current across X, Y and Z axis for even dispersion.
- Fatigue Strength: Beryllium brings to copper a unique strength and resistance to fatigue which makes it especially forgiving to fatigue and repeated compression or movement. Pure copper is known for its malleability, which can work against it as a component in machinery where it will be subject to repeated strain. By making copper into an alloy, its tolerance increases immensely and it becomes reliable for far more intensive uses.
- Hardness: A great asset of beryllium copper is its hardness when cooled, which, in the same vein as fatigue strength, gives it many uses as a core component in electronics, tools and other components where it might experience high levels of stress. This hardness also guarantees longevity, reducing the costs associated with frequent maintenance or replacement.
- Corrosion Resistance: Compared to other copper alloys, beryllium copper is prized for its corrosion resistance in harsh down-hole or sea water environments. It is especially strong against chloride and sulphide exposure and is not prone to cracking over time.
- Machinability: Beryllium copper has a solid melting point of 1590° F and a liquid melting point of 1800° F. This makes the alloy particularly well suited to being formed when hot, which is why it is so widely used for the manufacturing of precision components.
How Do BeCu Fingerstrips Work?
Beryllium copper’s properties as a non-magnetic conductor with unparalleled strength make it especially suited to being used in EMI RFI shielding. Because of how widely shielding is used throughout different technologies and industries, it needs to be uniquely adaptable to a wide range of applications.
Its workability and strength make it ideal for use in shielding that will be subjected to movement, compression or strain, or components that will be used in harsh environments. This is why it is especially well suited to being used in shielding fingerstrips.
BeCu fingerstrips, also called EMI Shielding fingerstock gaskets, are designed to close spaces between conductive surfaces. They are effectively rows of spring mechanisms, which will compress when subject to pressure and return to their original form when pressure is released. Fingerstock gaskets can be used in places where a lid or door might need to open and close, providing an easy release while also offering a conductive touch point.
Fingerstrips made with beryllium copper are the industry standard due to their extremely long lifespans, in spite of harsh conditions and repeated use, as well as their ability to withstand corrosion and radiation. As a product, they are extremely customizable, with countless variations and changes available depending on the requirements of different applications.
Is Beryllium Copper ROHS Compliant & Reach Compliant?
All beryllium copper shielding is designed to be RoHS (Restriction of the Use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment) compliant and made to the highest standard of quality and safety. To be compliant, a substance must not exceed certain allowable amounts of restricted materials such as mercury, cadmium, lead, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), as well as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).
Additionally, beryllium copper is compliant with REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) regulations. This is European Union approved legislation aimed at facilitating use, environmental, health and safety information to the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency). Following these guidelines is mandatory for your safety and the safety of the environment.
Protect Your Equipment from Unwanted Interference
Beryllium Copper electrical and mechanical properties make it the ideal material for EMI RFI shielding products. This is why BeCu fingerstock gaskets offer maximum spring properties in terms of fatigue resistance as well as excellent conductivity.
The ID Group can help you select the right BeCu fingerstock gaskets to protect your equipment from electromagnetic and radio-frequency interferences. We also offer other EMI RFI shielding solutions such as metalized fabric gaskets, conductive shielding gaskets and honeycomb vents for many applications. Should you have any questions about our EMI products, feel free to get in touch with one of our experts.